Have we been misunderstanding stewardship?
Stewardship is Prayer, Participation and Gratitude
The word stewardship is normally tied to donations, but that is a very narrow definition of a much larger teaching of the Catholic faith. In fact, stewardship is how we offer grateful prayers and gratitude for the gifts we have been given by God. Gratitude needs to begin with prayer which will lead to action. The surprise in this is where God leads you in active service and in ministry.
Recently, eight people from Holy Spirit Parish in Sioux Falls, the Catholic Diocese and the Catholic Community Foundation for Eastern South Dakota staffs attended the International Catholic Stewardship Conference. The take away lessons are inspirational and built on the foundation of prayer and participation in ministry. We are all gifted persons created in the image of God himself. Each gift we have been given is uniquely embedded in each of us by God and it is our responsibility to use it to the full potential.
Identifying those gifts can often be the most difficult part of being a good steward. Some of the most visible gifts and ministries in the church are musicians, readers and those willing to lead and teach. Not all of us have been blessed with the gifts to participate in those ministries, but rest assured we have been richly blessed to fully participate. God has not forgotten anyone.
It is not uncommon for employers to offer personality testing when hiring or building stronger employee teams. If you have taken the Myers-Briggs, Personalysis, DiSC, Spiritual Gift Inventory or any other interest inventory you have a jump start on an objective view of the ways you can participate in ministry. These personality types or inventories are a way of holding up a mirror and looking at the gift you have been given. Employers look at gifts and match talents with the task. The same can be done to find a satisfying opportunity to get involved in ministry within the parish or school community.
Another way to identify gifts is to celebrate strengths you see in others. Every parish has people who are outgoing, thoughtful, organized or born leaders. Invite them to use those gift for the benefit of the parish. Everyone likes to be invited to ministry, especially young people. Most young adults will not respond to a bulletin announcement asking for volunteers, but they will responded to a personal invitation to participate in an opportunity to serve the community. We are all on the journey together and we can aid each other by naming their gifts and asking them to contribute to the building of a more vibrant parish community.
Bishop Robert Morneau from the Diocese of Green Bay, WI was the closing speaker for the International Catholic Stewardship Conference and he reminded attendees to receive God’s gifts gratefully, to nurture them responsibly, to share them justly and sacrificially and to return them abundantly.
This conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, a pastoral letter from the United State Catholic Conference of Bishops. This visionary letter from the Conference calls Catholics to be strong stewards of the gifts we personally possess, but also all those gifts in our world. How are we treating the natural resources as well as the people around us. Are we stewards of ALL God has given.
This challenge has moved some parishes to initiate the formation of stewardship committees to help the parish community live the call to stewardship. These committees are not focused only on tithing efforts, but more of a complete definition of stewardship that focuses on prayer being the center of all efforts. Stewardship committees are called to help everyone share their gifts and participate in ministry as a way to become a more faith filled disciple.
Pray, participation and gratitude are components to a more vibrant parish. If you want to learn more about being a better steward or if you and your pastor want to explore a stewardship committee, please contact Daryl Thuringer in the office of parish services (605) 988-3779.
Daryl Thuringer is the diocesan Delegate for Discipleship and Evangelization and the diocesan Director of Parish Services.
Stewardship Prayer from the
International Catholic Stewardship Conference
Loving and Gracious God,
we ask you to strengthen us
in this milestone year of
to answer your call to be disciples.
May our response be rooted
in your Word, Jesus Christ;
keep us ever mindful of the needs
of our communities; and
flow from a profound sense of gratitude
for your many blessings.
By the gift of the Holy Spirit,
empower and inspire us to respond in a way
that brings hope to others
and reveals the love that comes to us
through Jesus Christ.
We ask this in His Name,
who is Lord forever and ever.
Pictured (left to right) are: Daryl Thuringer, Melinda North, Ron Staebell, Tim and Pam Hilber, Tim Henderson, Barry and Mary Kolbeck. Not pictured: Father Chuck Cimpl. (Photo courtesy, Office of Discipleship and Evangelization, Diocese of Sioux Falls)